It is hard to believe that it was only seven years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Through extensive research I quickly found out that with the relative simplicity of EnRoute, CNC routers were capable of just about anything imaginable. This journal will chronicle that journey to date and continue each week with two or three entries as we continue to explore just what is possible with this wonderful software... -dan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting ready for the gold...

While gold leaf work is very rare these days and also add a lot of value to any project it really isn't very hard to do. It's actually a relatively simple and easy process. Gold is sold by the sheet in books of twenty five pieces. Each piece measures 3 3/8" square and is REAL 23K gold. It has been pounded very, very thin. I like to purchase 25 books (or one box) of gold at a time. It is much more economical that way and no matter how much I buy the freight is about the same. On this project I used thirty two sheets of gold... only about fifty dollars worth of gold. I would have spent more than that in labor adding a second coat of paint to the letters if I didn't gild them.
I use oil based size to fasten the gold to the signs surface. It comes in slow or fast determined by the time it takes to tack up or dry to the point you can lay the gold. I like fast size for surface gilding as our shop tends to be dusty. The size looks like varnish and is clear. A thimble full was more than enough to do this project. A little goes a long way! We recycle plastic pudding cups for this type of job. Once we are done they are tossed and in that fashion I don't have to worry about using any solvents - except to clean my brush.
I brush the size on with a small brush. Because we routed the bevelled letters with a slight shoulder, raising them off the surface, they are pretty easy and fast to paint. Skill helps but isn't critical. A good, quality brush is critical however for a good job. I took my time and covered each letter well so there would be no holidays (missed spots) later.
Now comes the hard part... waiting for the size to tack up. How long we wait depends on the temperature, the humidity and if there is air movement. When its ready a knuckle dragged over the size will squeak. (do this on a test piece - not your finished work)
Next installment we'll get to the flashy part...